Observing Report -- Saturday, November 10

We've had a three-day stretch of clear skies; that's not the first since the last time I went out, but damn near, and definitely the first that wasn't in the middle of the week (middle-aged sysadmin needs his goram sleep) or covered by sickness.

We spent Martinmas at my in-laws eating new wine and chestnuts, and by the time we got back it was late and Jupiter was already up. I set up the scope on the steps near our townhouse and showed the kids. Jr/Fresco and I'd been talking about what eyepiece to use: the 40mm or the 12mm? He grabbed the 40mm since it was bigger, and was really surprised to see how much smaller Jupiter looked (30x) compared to the 12mm (100x). Both saw the NEB and SEB, and noticed Europa, Callisto and Io.

It was clear skies then...but in the hour it took me to read them stories, put them to bed and get out the door to the local park, clouds moved in and all but obscured everything...except Jupiter, that is. (Cue macho joke about KING OF THE GODS, that's who.) So I made lemonade and spent my time looking at Jupiter.

It was wonderful. The seeing was quite steady, and that made up for things not being quite as bright as they might have been. I was able to get up to 320x, which is a feat for me -- not to mention being able to simply keep it in view when it sails across the screen like that. The North Polar Region, the NEB and the SEB were easily visible, and I could just make out the Great Red Spot rotating out of view. From time to time I could distinguish the north and south components of the SEB, the north and south Temperate Bands, and what looked like a thin dark band right across the equator (which I just barely see hints of in these photos; not sure if I was imagining that or not).

ANother thing I saw was the reapparance of Ganymede from occulatation (that is, from behind Jupiter's disk). I knew when to expect it; when the time came, I saw it and thought "Oh yeah, neat...not as cool as a transit, though." I ignored it for a few more minutes, then realized something: I was seeing a disk, not just a point o' light...and that was only at 200x. I had my copy of the RASC Observer's Handbook (okay, maybe it is handy to have around), so I looked up Ganymede and saw that it was half again as big as the moon. Wow. I had a closer look at the other moons, and while I couldn't really see any disks, I did seem to see a sort of brownish colour to Callisto (which may actually be accurate).

I came in after only an hour; the clouds were erratic, and I wanted to get inside. Not the widest-ranging observing session, but lots of fun.